First Meetings in Ender’s Universe by Orson Scott Card is a delightful set of short stories that catalogue, as the title implies, the different starting points that surround the famous 1977 novella Ender’s Game. The collection starts with two stories that follow John Paul Wiggin (the future father of Ender), first in his childhood when he is “selected” for his potential to procreate a brilliant military leader, then later as he starts college and meets the woman who will become his wife. The third story included is the original version of Ender’s Game, followed up with a tale about Andrew Wiggin (now infamous as “Ender the Xenocide”) who is struggling to pay taxes and finds himself a clever AI program to help with his money and personal security issues.
Overall, this book is a fun read. It’s not just because it consists of short stories, which naturally make a book easier to pick up and put down due to the segmented nature of the storytelling. The collection starts with a young but smart boy whose future is inadvertently mapped out for him even though he’s barely six years old. From there comes an adorable story of love at first sight, as our “hero” falls head over heels for his young teacher and proceeds to woo her with an impossible amount of take-out. Then comes the dark turn: Ender plays his game well – he’s been trained to, of course – but winning the “game” means wiping out an entire species and destroying an entire planet. Finally, after being labeled as a mass murderer and living on the run, Andrew/ Ender finds financial help in the unexpected form of a computerized personal assistant, and eventually discovers a purpose for his stigmatized life.
What I really love about this collection is that it is focused on the beginnings of stories. It’s all about when certain characters interact for the first time, with the implication that even though the tale may go on afterwards, that first meeting is particularly critical. So much is determined from the start – despite the many twists and turns that a story may take, oftentimes the ending was set from the very beginning (read through Genesis if you don’t believe me). And even the humblest beginnings can have far-reaching consequences (just think of how Christ was born in a manger).
These are concepts that are reflected in my own anthology of short stories. The short story “In the Beginning” of the set “Love, Blood and Magic” shows us the first meeting of Jesse and Alex, and then the meeting of both boys with the priestess, and it is from this simple beginning that the entire story arc, stretching from 671 AD to 2022 AD and involving the fates of not only a vampire and a half-devil but also the remains of the entire elven race, is set into motion. As I wrote at the end of that short but powerful story, “It was in that instant that their fates were inexplicably linked, and the lives of these three would never be the same.”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.